What is it about the smell of lavender that is so attractive? A modern trend in aromatherapy and alternative medicine frequently includes the use of lavender essential oil. Lavender’s properties, fragrance, and long list of medical uses has raised it to new heights of popularity. This article shares a bit of lavender’s history and discusses many of lavender’s possible uses.
In general, lavender is associated with cleansing, healing, and love. It has been used since ancient times not only for its perfume, but for its medicinal properties. Romans added lavender to their bath water, so the word itself was derived from the word “lavare”, meaning “to wash.” The medical term, however, for lavender essential oil is “Lavendula Officinalis.”
Lavender has been used over the ages by various cultures for various reasons. The ancient Greeks used lavender to battle constipation, chest pains, and throat infections. Legend claims that lavender was taken from the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve. The Romans also loved lavender oil, using it in cooking, bathing, and scenting the air. Supposedly, Cleopatra used lavender to seduce Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
In Medieval and Renaissance Europe, people scattered lavender over the stone floors of castles for use as a disinfectant and deodorant. Use of lavender was highly revered during the Great Plague of London in the 17th century. Individuals wore bunches of lavender on each wrist to protect themselves from the Black Death. In addition, glove makers scented their leather with lavender oil to ward off the disease. Thieves who made a living stealing from the graves and the homes of Plague victims concocted a wash known as “Four Thieves Vinegar,” which contained lavender, to cleanse and protect themselves after a night’s work. Today, we know the disease was transmitted by fleas, so the use of lavender, which is known to repel these insects, could very well have saved lives and prevented further spread of the plague.
Lavender is reportedly a healing oil and can be applied to the skin on an open wound undiluted. Lavender oil has been used to treat flatulence and colic, given on a sugar lump (dose 0.3 – 1.2ml) or as a compound tincture. Lavender oil is also applied externally as an insect repellent. Lavender’s aroma is described as being sweet, fresh, floral, herbaceous, and slightly fruity.
Lavender essential oil is a wonderful oil for helping with depression. It helps in steadying the psyche. Lavender’s balancing effect calms a person’s emotions, removes indecisiveness and emotional conflict, and helps to bring feelings under conscious control. It brings a sense of rationality to the conscious mind. An interesting aroma study was conducted by Oxford University which found that when people used lavender during their off time, when they returned to work the typical sleepy stage that occurs after lunch happened less frequently. In other word’s, the study’s lavender group showed increased concentration after lunch when the control group continued to get sleepy. This may be because the lavender oil helped the workers with a more relaxed off-time experience, bringing them a higher amount of energy for daily tasks.
Lavender Essential Oil works to calm a variety of nervous disorders including excitability, nervous tension, panic, and hysteria. It emanates a mellow peacefulness and induces sleep. As such, lavender oil is a great way to battle insomnia. In folklore, pillows were filled with lavender flowers to help the restless to fall asleep. Scientifically, there is now evidence that lavender aromatherapy may improve sleep quality, promote relaxation, and lift the mood of people who suffer from sleep disorders.
Studies also suggest that massage with lavender essential oil may result in improved sleep quality, more stable mood, increased mental capacity, and reduced anxiety. In one recent study, participants who received massage with lavender felt less anxious and more positive than participants who received massage alone. Lavender flowers have also been approved in Germany as a tea for insomnia, restlessness, and nervous stomach irritations.
A recent study found that the use of lavender oil may improve postoperative pain control. Fifty patients undergoing breast biopsy surgery received either oxygen supplemented with lavender oil or oxygen alone. Patients in the lavender group reported a higher satisfaction rate with pain control than patients in the control group.
The methods for receiving lavender essential oil’s medicinal benefits vary. For inhalation purposes, boil 2 cups of water, add 2 drops of essential oil, and inhale the steam. Externally, Lavender oil can often be used full-strength on the skin. It works wonderfully and can be applied directly for cuts, scrapes, wounds, burns, bee, wasp, and insect stings, rashes, muscle aches, rheumatism, arthritis, cold sores, canker sores, blisters, bruises, athlete’s foot, and rubbed directly into the temples in case of headache or migraine. A few drops of oil dropped into warm bath water is both refreshing and relaxing.
Safety Information: As with many other essential oils, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using lavender essential oil. It is also recommended that diabetics stay away from lavender oil. It may also cause allergic reactions to people having sensitive skin. Some people may also witness nausea, vomiting and headaches due to usage of lavender oil.
Important Note: The information provided is for educational purposes only. This data is not considered complete. Conduct your own additional research before using lavender essential oil for yourself.